Palanga Church Consecrated


The church bells of the Evangelical Lutheran parish church of Palanga now sound forth a call to worship to the people of Palanga and visitors to that city after seventy four years of silence. On Saturday, July 14, 2012 Bishop Mindaugas Sabutis consecrated the new Palanga parish church and deaconal center. The occasion of the consecration was a joyful celebration of the Sacrament of the Altar and sermon by Bishop Sabutis and overflow congregation, which included members and friends from Western Lithuania and guests from abroad.

The Palanga Lutherans lost their last permanent place of worship when their church burned to the ground in 1938. World War II and the many years of soviet occupation which followed made it impossible to rebuild and the parishioners had to travel 15 kilometers to Kretinga for preaching and the Sacrament. Services resumed in 1993 after Lithuanian independence form the Soviet Union was declared when Pastor Darius Petkunas of the Kretinga parish began to gather parishioners and hold services in the private dwelling.

The reinstitution of regular worship services for the Palanga Lutherans brought with it renewed dreams of a new church building and deaconal center, but it was not until 2005 that ground was broken and a cornerstone laid for the new church by Bishop Sabutis, President Rev. Dr. Gary Arp, and Pastor Petkunas. The building was erected as a result of the hard work and offerings of the congregations of Iowa East District, the gifts of Mr. Kurt Velius, and matching funds from LCMS Human Care, as well as contributions from Palanga parishioners, other Lithuanians, and friends from abroad. The altar, baptismal font, bells, and church pews came from the Lutheran parish church of Gevelsberg, Westphalia, Germany and its pastor the Rev. Dirk Kuesgen, and the church organ was purchased from Köln, Germany, with private contributions.

Participants in the consecration service included the Rev. Dr. Brian Saunders, President of the Iowa East District of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod and the Rev. Dr. Gary Arp, President-emeritus of the Iowa East District who worked tirelessly to see project through to its completion. Also in attendance were the Rev. Dr. Albert Colver, director of church relations of Lutheran Church Missouri Synod and special assistant to LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew Harrison who was an initiator of the project, Mr. Hans Springer of the LCMS Human Care staff, the Rev. Dr. Brent Smith, the Rev. Daniel Johnson, the Rev. Dr. Charles Evanson of LCMS international, the Rev. Ainārs Jaunskalže, dean of Grobiņa of Latvian Lutheran Church, and the Rev. Arvīds Bobinskis, pastor of Nica Latvia, the Rev. Dirk Kuesgen of Gevelsberg, Germany, the Rev. Lüder Wilkens of the Independent Lutheran Church in Germany (SELK), as well as area clergy of the Lithuanian Lutheran Church, and Priest Marius Venskus of the Palanga Roman Catholic parish and a representative of the Palanga Russian Orthodox Church.

Pastor Petkunas stated that the new church will provide facilities for the Palanga parish and will attract many of the thousands who vacation annually in Palanga. The deaconal center facilities will serve both visitors and those in need and will also be used for the many church-wide conferences and meetings.

This project is the monument to the altar and pulpit fellowship shared by the Lithuanian Church and the LCMS, and as a constant reminder of the self-sacrificing friendship of those at home and abroad who supported this project with their prayers and generous gifts.


Kęstutis Pulokas